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Illinois high school football playoff seeding changes coming

Prep football playoffs in Illinois will look a little different in the fall.

The Illinois High School Association is changing its playoff seeding system for most football classes. At the IHSA Board of Directors meeting this month, members approved a 1-to-32 seeding proposal for Class 1A through Class 6A. Class 7A and Class 8A already followed the format.

“In the past, we essentially split the state into a north and a south,” said Matt Troha, assistant executive director of the IHSA. “If in a particular year the south happened to have more of the strong teams, that might be a more difficult bracket to get through. Now that they’re all going to be just seeded against one another, it’ll be a little bit more of a true competitive format.”

The previous geographical split was intended to cut down on travel for the schools. Troha says it was not a torrent of complaints to the office that prompted the change.

“It hadn’t been talked about much in the past,” Troha said. “I think it was just an idea that the coaches discussed and decided to bring forward from our advisory committee. We have some former football coaches on our board of directors, so they were supportive of that from their past experience.”

The adjustment will take effect with the coming fall football season and does not affect the timing of the playoffs.

“It can kind of be in the eye of the beholder who the best teams are and ultimately that’s why we play it out,” Troha said. “I think in a lot of coaches’ and fans’ minds this is the better way to do it, so I think a lot of people will be excited about it.”

Meanwhile, the IHSA Football Advisory Committee has recommended the start of a sanctioned 8-man football playoff starting in 2023. The sport has seen an increase in participation over the past few years.

“I think that a lot of our smaller and more rural communities and those high schools are shrinking. So I think the pool players is just smaller,” Troha said. “Many smaller schools do co-op for football and play 11-man. But I think there’s many who prefer to have a team at their own school, if they’re able to, and 8-man gives that opportunity.”

The board has not officially acted yet on the recommendation. Troha says plans for a potential playoff schedule are unclear at this time, but with eight games over two days, there is no room to add another game to the 11-man championship window. There are also no plans to subtract any classes from the 11-man competition.

Currently, around 40 schools across the state field an 8-man football team. Supporters think that number will rise with the addition of an I-H-S-A championship series.

“It’s their feeling that a state playoff and a state championship at eight-man will add a little bit more legitimacy to it and maybe some other schools will make the jump,” Troha said.

This article was originally posted on Illinois high school football playoff seeding changes coming

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